Thursday, January 3, 2008
Kenya should face suspension from the Commonwealth
The Commonwealth is playing a useful mediation role. But if the Kibaki government resists international pressure to negotiate a political solution, then Kenya should face suspension from the Commonwealth.
Richard Bourne, the best informed observer of Commonwealth politics and founder of the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, argues that the Commonwealth can contribute to a political settlement but also suggests that suspension would be on the agenda if this fails.
The Commonwealth has been a pioneer among international institutions in basing membership of principles of democracy, but this could prove a difficult test of its internal cohesion. Suspension would be largely symbolic. But symbolism matters in international politics - and this would be an appropriate way to signal the lack of legitimacy of the Kibaki government.
I have a long-standing interest in the Commonwealth, and co-wrote a couple of Foreign Policy Centre pamphlets in 1999, launched at the Commonwealth summit in South Africa in 1999. At the time, the report was rubbished by Zimbabwe's Foreign Minister Stan Mudenge who called it "the toilet paper of the summit", though our warning about the need for earlier action to prevent crises was borne about by events since.
As the Washington clocks strike twelve on 20th January 2009, listen carefully and you might just hear a swooshing sigh of relief travel around the world. The Bush Presidency will not leave the legacy its architects intended. But a critique of what should have been done differently since 2001 is not enough. This blog is about the new ideas which can create a 'new multilateralism' to tackle the global challenges we face.